UK craft blog

Me and All Craft Media

ETA: Word has just come down the pipeline that Kerrie is putting ACM in bankruptcy, which leaves all subscribers and contributors in the dust. HOWEVER, she also appears to have had her father register as the Managing Director of Handmade Living magazine as she is rumoured to be banned from MDing the company herself. So there appear to be future plans for these magazines.

Also, if you need information about getting listed as a creditor or getting your copyright/distribution rights back now rather than the 6 months’ stipulated in the contracts, see my post here.

I’ve been agonising about writing this post. This entire experience has been so upsetting, and I very rarely complain about anything but myself on this blog. Plus it feels unprofessional to complain, you know? And I was worried about one sponsor in particular being upset, but now that I’ve discovered I won’t make a friend and colleague angry, I want to share my story. And by the way, I will not be censored on my own blog, so there’s no point in sending me a ‘legal’ letter demanding I remove this post on pain of remaining unpaid with an unreturned sample. I pay for this website and I’ll say whatever I want on it. It’s not libel if it’s provably true, so before firing any emails at me, read carefully – nothing I’ve said here is untrue and libel doesn’t apply to opinions.

Much of the history of KAL Media/All Craft Media has come out on Ravelry, so if you aren’t on it, you’ll need to create a free account to be able to read it. I’ll label all Ravelry links with a (Rav) so you know which is which. Here are some relevant links, and I want to emphasise that these are all good people who’ve made the VERY difficult decision of whether to go public about their experiences:

The company is rumoured to have less-than-stellar communications with designers in the past as you’ll see from the above links, and there have been reports from designers of discovering their designs had been resold to North American magazines with no notification.

I was approached by the editor of Modern Quilting (UK) magazine, and we eventually agreed a small price for a small design. I was so excited at the prospect of being in a magazine! I did the work, and also started hearing some rumblings about the company All Craft Media, and its former incarnation KAL Media. Past designers hadn’t been paid, and hadn’t had their samples returned. 

I sent in a bag and pattern to the quilting magazine. I am ashamed to admit I didn’t research the parent company first, or I might have avoided all the heartache this whole episode has caused. But I sent it in. Please believe me when I state the editor is wonderful and gave me complete creative control, and the tech editor is a whiz. I attach NO blame to them AT ALL. Rather, I believe the problems stem from the haphazard way the entire company is run and originate at the top, not the middle or the bottom, as they seem to have done in the company’s former incarnation. Although it would be nice if someone in the middle or lower tier would post the samples back to everyone.

I haven’t actually received the magazine (a Twitter friend informed me yesterday that I am actually in it), but I’ve heard from subscribers that there have been many delays so maybe mine’s in the post. Although having read this post from Crobyworks I am not going to hold my breath. I tried to purchase an instant download, but it’s not exactly instant. It’s been 2 days and my order on the Inside Crochet page says ‘Order Processed – No Gift’. I am unable to download anything, nor did I receive any communication suggesting I could do so.

I can’t complain too much about not being paid, as *technically* they have till the end of May, but what they haven’t done is send my sample back, despite assuring me that the SASE envelope I paid for had been used to package it and it was sitting in the office, ready to be posted. I PAID the postage already; all they have to do is shove it in a mailbox. It’s a soft bag, it’ll go in.

I was asked to do a second project for them. After some expressed concerns, it was suggested I do the work anyway, and then if I wasn’t paid and didn’t receive my sample, I could simply hold onto it. I purposely didn’t sign a second contract, deciding I’d wait to commit to it when I got my money and sample. I want to stress that I attach no fault or blame to any editors or tech editors or writers or designers. Those people are good people, trying hard to make the best of a bad situation. They are in an impossible situation and I genuinely feel for them.

Well, the due date loomed and passed, and I heard nothing. I haven’t been paid (again, they do have till the end of May to do so, but if they can’t pay their editors, they probably won’t pay me and remember they said they’d pay me before I send out the next design), and despite the fact that my bag was allegedly packed up and ready to go, it hasn’t made its way here. ETA: I got my bag back!!! It was postmarked 4 May (the day this post went live) – I don’t know if it was the post, or the email sent on my behalf by a bloggy/lawyer friend, but it was a nice ‘birthday present’.

And all last week, and all of this week, I’ve been miserable. So, so miserable.

There’s a little voice eating away at me inside, even after I’ve decided not to send it. It says: You better send it in anyway, Jen. Because you don’t want to burn any publishing bridges, even if you never get paid and never get your sample back. You’re not any good. Your designs aren’t any good. No one will ever want to publish your stuff except these people, so you better suck it up and do it. And that, my friends, is not a good place to be. Because, my friends, I convinced myself that the fact that I hadn’t been paid meant that my designs and my work are worthless. And logically I know it’s stupid to think that, as I have a project coming out in another extremely reputable magazine later in the year, and clearly my sponsors think my work is worth something. Please understand I’m not after compliments. Nor do I need you to tell me that my designs are shite. Maybe you think they are. That’s fine, but please respect the fact that I’d never come to your blog and tell you that you’re rubbish, even if I disagreed with your politics. I just want to warn others to prevent them from going through the same heartache that I have. 

I emailed friends about it, my husband has had to shore up my self-doubt, and to be quite frank, my Bipolar brain started to interpret the whole mess as complete chaos. And chaos is what sets my Bipolar Disorder into full blown frenzy. I stopped sleeping at night. I constantly questioned everything – the website, the bees, my designs, everything. I thought, What am I doing this for? Why do any of it if I’m going to be so upset over it? 

You know, if a doctor is negligent, or a police officer abuses his power, or a university professor commits plagiarism, there are professional bodies which colleagues and laymen can go to and express their concern, which can take appropriate action if need be. But craft bloggers have no such organisation. How do you decide when to stay silent about your experiences and when to share them? We usually share good experiences, not bad ones. And certainly not embarrassing ones. It’s been a really tough decision, but I’ve decided that if I save ONE fellow designer/quilt blogger from this, it’s worth it. I never want anyone to go through what I’ve gone through.

IF YOU ARE AFTER YOUR NAME IN PRINT: Trust me, there are magazines out there who do want your designs. And if you’re going to design for someone and not get paid for it, make sure you agree to that up front. But DO THE RESEARCH first. Not later. And if you get contacted by these people, make an informed decision. My personal advice is to save yourself lots of heartache. But even if you decide you want to have your name in print so badly that you’ll put up with no payment and no return of your sample, at least you’ve gone in with your eyes open. It’s a very savvy business model – they contact bloggers who’ve never appeared in print before, who’ve likely never heard of their history. And they know we’re all desperate to be published – that’s the holy grail of design. So desperate that we might not question anything they say.

And buying their magazines? Well, I’m not going to counsel you against it. But I personally don’t feel confident sending any more money to someone who doesn’t pay their own staff, and doesn’t pay the designers whose designs feature in the magazine. I’d rather pay the designers direct by buying their patterns from them (this mostly applies to the yarn world and Ravelry). People aren’t furniture. They’re not rugs you step on as you make your way to the top. They’re people, and they deserve to be treated with respect and courtesy. The truly sad thing is that the magazine actually fills a hole in the market. We have no UK based modern quilting magazine that we can get excited about and sell designs to. But by burning the quilt bloggers, they’re burning their chances at excellent, excited and nearly free publicity. All you have to do is look at the buzz constantly generated by the big online quilt magazine to see what kind of potential there is out there for good, modern publications who treat people with dignity.

I do know for a fact that I’m not the only blogger who’s been made to feel a fool by All Craft Media/Kerrie Allman/KAL Media, and I know that many of you are frightened to speak out publicly against them. Perhaps you hope you’ll get paid if you stay silent, or get your sample back. There’s an interesting post about what’s happened to past samples in a (Rav) thread that might enlighten you. But I’d also like you to weigh that hope against the unassailable fact that if we don’t all speak out and unite, more bloggers and designers will be in the same position that you and I are in. And that’s the saddest fact of all. My friend Fiona at The Sewing Directory has also posted about this. The author of Sewing Mad has also posted about her negative experiences with All Craft Media. Sarah at Sarah Sews has also spoken about her experience. And Lynne at Lily’s Quilts has spoken about her work for ACM as well.

I’m sorry I had to write this. I’m still in pain about it. I hope you understand my decision to try to exorcise the agonising demons I’ve been fighting for the last month. You may not agree with my decision and that’s ok. But I’m hoping I’ll save someone from being plagued by self doubt by sharing my own. I deeply appreciate my readers’ patronage and I appreciate you reading this.

Jen

 

34 thoughts on “Me and All Craft Media

  1. Thank you for sharing this, and getting the message out to the quilting community. You deserve to get the sleep you need.

  2. Thankyou for sharing your experience. I doubt that any publishing company worth its salt would ever ostracise you for speaking out against those which potentially give the industry a bad name.

  3. Hi Jen

    I agree totally with your comments and have had a similar experience last year. I brushed it under the carpet at the time, shrugged my shoulders and told myself that my idea obviously was no good. Only to find it to appear in the next months publication of Sew Hip with no accreditation to myself. The samples had not been used but the instructions and words were mine, they had made their own samples. No I don’t have any ‘copyrite’ to the idea but I did feel cheated. I’ve blogged about it today here http://t.co/7Ar6SXWu

  4. Well done for writing this, I hope it makes you feel better. I stress massively about the smallest thing so can just imagine how you’ve been feeling. Take care Mx

  5. What the fudge? I can’t believe that someone would act so unprofessional and just keep going, what a bitch!
    I have purchased some of these mags before, but certainly won’t in the future, it’s hard enough for people to make a living at the moment without being treated like this.
    I do hope those waiting payment and such will be taking legal action against her, you too if you don’t get your payment by the end of the month.
    I’m so sorry you have had to deal with this, hopefully getting it out there has made you feel a bit better 🙂

  6. (((MASSIVE HUGS))) – that can’t have been easy to deal with, or post. Thank you for being brave enough to warn others, and get this out in the open. Well done, you should be proud of everything you have achieved and shared here. xxx

  7. Thank you for having the courage to post an extremely explicit, fact based post. As one of your regular readers in the USA, I wish that I had read this BEFORE I had paid for a subscription to Modern Quilt – they have charged me two different times for extra USA fees. NOT good business practices.

  8. Holy Shite! I have sent two things into them. They contacted me in Dec and had the samples to them in Jan. One under contract one not. Thank you for this post and with your permission I will be linking it to my blog in the next few days. BIG HUGS!!!!!

  9. Thank you – I hope writing this helps you in some way. I had no idea about any of this until now!
    I’m a subscriber to Modern Quilting but I’ve only ever received one magazine – it doesn’t look very hopeful does it??

  10. You have absolutely done the right thing posting this and I hope you feel all the support from your readers. I think your designs are wonderful but I have no intention of buying the magazine as I’d already heard about the publishers. I can’t support a company that doesn’t pay it’s contributors, or indeed staff!! I will be sticking with the Fat Quarterly magazine!
    I really hope you can put this down to experience and wish you a HAPPY future designing and being published 🙂

  11. What a sorry mess! It appears that you’ve been abominably treated, along with countless other lovely designers and the editorial teams who’ve tried to bring us creative, modern magazines.
    I was so excited when ‘Modern Quilting’ was launched but then found it impossible to get hold of – their Facebook page was helpful and someone phoned me and took my details so that a copy could be mailed to me. I haven’t subscribed and thought another issue was due and that I might try and get it.
    If the Ravelry thread is accurate, ACM have gone into liquidation today and yet another holding company has been set up. I buy very few magazines and will definitely not be supporting any in this group.
    Thanks for speaking out! Contributors, advertisers and consumers need to be made aware of such bad practice so that rotten publishing companies do not continue to function. There is definitely a place in the market for bright, modern magazines but they need to be run by professionals with integrity.

  12. Well done and well said. I knew nothing of this until today. Thank you for having the courage to speak out. x

  13. What an interesting and informative post, I had no idea that these problems existed with this company. I couldn’t find a copy of Modern Quilting when I was home in the UK, but finally found one in Dublin. As you say it definitely filled a niche, so I tried to subscribe by phone when I got back to Riga, but I am still waiting for the promised return call! Sounds like, unlike you, I had a lucky escape.

    Of course you should be able to use your blog to bring this whole sorry episode to the attention of your fellow craft bloggers. Any craft publishing company who thinks otherwise has most definitely misjudged modern crafters!

  14. and I just received an email from Kerrie :

    It is with regret that we must advise you that the company today entered administration and has ceased trading with immediate effect.

    FRP Advisary LLP have been appointed Administrators and will be in contact with all contributors, subscribers and suppliers within the next 10 days.

    If anyone has any interest in acquiring any of the titles they should contact FRP Advisory as quickly as possible.

    ———

    what a pile of sh*t … never have I seen such a plotting and deceitful human being as this woman…

  15. I’m not planning to start designing but thanks for the information. You shouldn’t really doubt yourself about writing about that kind of topic on your blog in public – that is what blogs are for. It’s just my opinion, but for me blogs are ment as places where you can note down your own personal experiences in “disregard” of other people’s opinion as long as you do so nicely and state your reasons (the reasons aren’t really that necessary, but it does help the reader a lot to understand just why you are upset with something). I think it’s important that you having made that experience tell others so they can know once it’s their turn – and it’s therapy for you, you can’t keep the frustration/ anger/ helplessness just to yourself that wouldn’t do you any good and in the long run we wouldn’t get to read the “happy” anymore.
    So despite all that not so nice, “stone in the tummy”-feeling situation have a nice May!

  16. A very good post!

    I applauded you when you basically said stuff any legal letters.
    I am also a designer who has been made to look an idiot. Three times in fact by being commissioned to do three back to back issues. Again, I do not blame the editor etc and I did get a personal email from her as did many others. I pondered about blogging about it and I think I will. I was going to use the money to pay for a website. I had to find the money from elsewhere. Having read this I intend emailing Sew Hip and telling them that due to not paying me they have not technically paid for the designs so if they sell them to anyone I will take legal action. I am doing to now sell my designs/patterns and instructions on my new website and stuff them!

    I did contribute in 2010 with out any problems at all. Such a sad story for all but why oh why accept commissions for months while others were not being paid within their own company. They would have been better to have postponed or shut up shop much sooner. Now they are in a right old mess. I shall check the media company before working with a magazine again.
    xx

  17. I can’t imagine how anyone would be able to criticize your post — it was very reasonable and you should be able to talk about what you want on your own blog. I’m so sorry you had to go through this, and I’m glad you have great family and friends to support you when you need it! 🙂

  18. Good for you, for sharing your experience, Jen, I know I for one really appreciate it. Kudos to you, and please, don’t let this sour you on publishing, there are indeed plenty of good, reputable publishers out there who would be lucky to have your patterns!

  19. I telephoned them YESTERDAY to ask about my missing subscription – they said they would get one to me and SAID NOTHING!!!!!!!!!
    Well said though Jenna – I am so sorry you have been affected so badly xxx

  20. I’m so sorry that this happened to you . I’m not familiar with any of the magazines since I do not knit . I’m glad you posted this blog . We all need to know ! even those of us that aren’t looking to be published AND don’t knit . again ; I’m so sorry and hope it does not infringe on your creativity ! :/

  21. Jen, I am so sorry about this. Please know you are a creative and inspiring woman. Do not let ANYONE cause you to doubt your creativity, your designs, artistic talents, or ANYTHING else. Don’t let anyone have that power. I love to read your blogs and see your work. It makes me enjoy being a quilter all the more. Prayers for you that all of this is resolved. Take care!

  22. I commend you for writing about such a heartrending experience with such clarity and concision. It was brave for you to post it, and I hope you feel all the support and admiration coming your way.

  23. I’m so sorry you went through this experience. Kudos to you for your openness and sharing your experience with all sides of working in a creative industry. It’s important to hold those accountable who don’t play by the rules of common decency.

  24. Very good post. And kudos to you for writing it in such a calm and concise manner. It does take courage to speak out about mistreatment by other “professionals” and you should never doubt your worth because someone else doesn’t behave professionally. You have probably clarified the situation for a lot of people with all of the reference links you included too. Well done!

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